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The Voluntary Support of Education reported that donations to colleges and universities remained flat during the 2019-2020 academic year.

Credit: Kylie Cooper

Donations to colleges and universities remained flat during the 2019-2020 academic year after 10 years of consistent increases, according to a new report.

The Voluntary Support of Education report, sponsored by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, showed that despite the stagnant donation numbers between July 2019 and June 2020, nearly half of surveyed institutions reported increases in donations. The report used data from 873 colleges and universities across the country. 

Even amid the overall lack of increase in donations, Penn received several large donations in the 2019-2020 academic year. In November 2019, Penn Law School was renamed University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School following a $125 million donation, the largest donation ever made to a law school. The donation was intended for increased support for students from underrepresented backgrounds, as well as an expansion of public interest opportunities.

In May 2020, Wharton’s Neuroscience Initiative received an anonymous $10 million donation to fund postdoctoral fellowships, summer research opportunities, and new research equipment.

According to the report, the COVID-19 pandemic, which accounted for nearly half of the time period covered, may have contributed to the stagnation in donations. Donors may have shifted their focus to charities directly addressing the impact of COVID-19, the authors of the report wrote. 

Foundations gave the most for higher education, donating $16.44 billion, or 33.2% of the total donations. Alumni, non-alumni individuals, other organizations, and corporations followed, donating 22.3%, 17.4%, 13.6% and 13.4%, respectively, of the total giving share.